tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC July 29, 2017 1:00am-2:00am PDT
no repeal, no replace and no way to predict what's next except for the 11th hour which begins now. on a friday night good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. day 190 of the trump administration. and reince priebus of kenosha, wisconsin will soon be a private citizen again. and tonight he is making plan -- plans to, as they say, spend more time with his family. his replacement is homemade secretary john kelly, a retired four-star u.s. marine general. he starts on monday and in trump white house terms that is ages from now. priebus granted his exit interview. the first one to cnn notable because the president never miss -- misses a chance to call them fake. and priebus said his departure symbolized the president pressing the reset button, what trump criticized hillary clinton for doing with russia. priebus was graceful in departing.
he implied his departure was a topic of conversation with the president as he praised trump for unmatched political indistinct. -- instincts. >> i've been obviously talking to the president for a few days about this. and ultimately i formally resigned yesterday. it's something i always talked to the president about. i've always said to him and he always agreed with me, any time either one of us think that we need to to make a change or move in a different direction, let's just talk about it and get it done. i'm always going to be a trump fan. i'm on team trump. he has the best political instincts -- hang on a second. >> yeah. >> he knows intuitively when things need to change. i've seen it now for a year and a half on the wild ride with the president that i loved being a part of. but he intuitively determined
that it was time to do something differently. and i think he is right. we talk all the time about this subject. and any time -- any time we want to go a different direction either one of us we talk about it. >> that is how reince priebus describes his exit. here is how the "washington post" describes it. quote his final departure was a humiliating coda for what had been a largely demeaning tenure, during which reince priebus endure ed emasculation from rival advisers and even at times the president himself. the post story recounts one vignette, where the president asked priebus to kill a fly bothering him in the oval office. priebus says he officially told president trump yesterday he would resign but still accompanied the president on air force one to long island where trump spoke to law enforcement officers. during that speech before we knew secretary kelly would take over for priebus trump seemed to
give a bit of a hint. >> i want to congratulate john kelly who has done an incredible job of secretary of homeland security. one of our real stars. truly one of our stars. john kelly is one of our great stars. you know the border is down 78%. >> the story broke while air force 1 on on route to d.c. from new york on a rain swept tarmac the president at andrews spoke briefly with reuters. >> reince is a good man. john kelly will do a fantastic job. general kelly has been a star done an incredible job thus far respected by everybody. a great, great american. but reince priebus a good man. thank you very much. >> at this point let us bring in tonight's starting panel for a friday night nbc news white house correspondent kristin welker who was busy to do.
"washington post" white house burrow -- bureau chief, white house reporter for politico. you reported what you saw contemporaneously, it speaks to the kind of continuing diminishing of reince priebus, but tell us what you saw when they landed. >> well, they were quite delayed in landing, about an extra half hour in the air coming down from new york. i think they were circling for sometime due to bad weather. when they finally landed and pulled up at the parking place there we saw a bunch of staffers come out of the back of the
plane and we saw the senior staffers, reince priebus, and steven miller and the director there at the white house all go into a vehicle together. and this was just at the time that the tweet was coming out from the president that john kelly would be the new chief of staff. and then just moments after loading up in that car, the aide, miller and scevino stepped out and got back into the motorcade. and that was pretty much it for reince priebus, who headed off in his own car for his own security protection, but basically was dropped off on his own. >> unbelievable, this was all described by you. we were reading it here in the news room. just to emphasize, he presumably asked for the car, maybe to make a phone call. the other two aides get out, and then the car gets out of the sequence, the line of the depart ing motorcade and pulls off separately?
>> yes, that is basically it. i don't know if he wanted to be there while trump was making his speech about the change of staff. >> phil rucker, as condensed as they are, all of our print colleagues at the white house are writing the lookback piece about the reince priebus era, all six months of it. and i know you contend he was something less than a chief of staff in full always? >> you know, yeah, i think that is exactly right. look, this is an establishment republican who became close to donald trump over the course of the campaign. tried to help integrate the party in the trump world. tried to do it in washington to help trump govern and pass his agenda on capitol hill. but he was beset time and time again by the kind of chaos and disorder that has really defined all of trump's enterprises,
including this white house. it was so remarkable, that reince priebus was so belittled and demeaned at work, the backbiting was so intense and vicious. i talked to one staffer, the president said that reince priebus was weak, he can't get the job done and of course all has come to an end. >> as one politico put it together, how much change do you expect? >> well, i think that is the critical question. and i would draw your attention to one point, brian, i had a conversation tonight with a source who said look, anthony scaramucci is still going to be reporting to the president. he will still have oval office privileges, as far as we know at
this point and what that means is that the chief staff still doesn't have that emboldened status of having most of the top officials report to him. will that change? will john kelly push for that? i think it will be a critical question, that could determine if this ship is righted. it was very tense today at the white house. we had a sense that something may be brewing as phil points out, the president for several days if not for weeks and months has questioned reince priebus's ability to be forceful on a whole host of issue. and he put reince priebus in charge of health care and was growing increasingly frustrated he was not seeing more action, more success on that front. it's our understanding that last night's vote was the death nell for preibus. >> all right, it doesn't get any heavier than that.
all right, we have so much to consider, former marine star general doesn't scare easily. he arrives at the white house where he can see the darkness on the edge of town and can see what happened to the last occupant and other folks in the political orbit, in this case, is political experience, not having it a good thing? >> maybe, he could sense what happened that went wrong but maybe will try to fix it. chief reince priebus seemed overwhelmed by the post, overwhelmed by donald trump who never quite forgave him for not initially getting on the trump train last year, and questioning him on the access of the hollywood tape. this is something the president would bring up. he liked to tease reince priebus, and others at the white house joined in.
the lack of a successful agenda. he was supposed to be with his establishment republican contacts in charge of health care i just mentioned. that of course has gone down in a humbling defeat. he has not been able to keep the trains running on time. this is a white house that never has a coherent message week to week because they're so often derailed by the president's tweets, his whims, he went after one of his most favorite generals, then, we have the departure of the shortest tenured chief of staff in white house history. >> what kind of week was it? we want to tell the viewers tonight we'll have a look back at where we have been since monday. it's a head-spinner. so josh, because we're talking about washington and a cabinet department where the number two will be in charge until the number one can be nominated and
not just any cabinet department. the folks who keep us safe, what are you hearing about a new secretary for the department of homeland security? >> well, we're hearing that you know, one of the rumors that is out there right now is there there may be some effort to try to shift attorney general jeff sessions over to this job because he is somebody who always had been thought of as more of an immigration enforcer anyway. but i don't know that that is viable in the senate given some of the rules that have been laid out there. the statements laid down by various senators in the last couple of days saying they're not interested in having more confirmation hearings for attorney general. that would throw them obviously into a panic, the ouster of bob mueller, for the time being we're probably looking at an acting chief over there until things settle down. >> so kristen welker, as we digest the idea of the attorney general going to the job of homeland security, the bells
that it would set off. and scaramucci, it is roundly contended that the kind of barnyard language he would use that would make a longshoreman blush, would make an instant dismissal by any other president. he won, he is still there. >> not only is he still there, brian, but there is a sense behind the scenes that the president is okay with what happened. that perhaps he was in some ways expressing part of what the president feels at least as it relates to reince priebus. steve bannon's job, it seems, at this point is still safe. but what has already divided an already fractured west wing, what i mean is you have some
people behind scenes who are brushing off what happened, others laughing about what happened but other people who are deeply upset and bothered by it who say frankly, someone who uses that type of language, someone who attacks his fellow colleagues should not be allowed to continue to serve in the west wing at the pleasure of the president. and so i think it's created more discord. now, can general kelly come in and change that? can he smooth over some of these very rough edges that exist right now? that will be a real challenge, i think, because there is a lot of concern and paranoia among staffers that they could be the next to go. it is worth noting that reince priebus was one of donald trump's remaining links to the party. you have sean spicer, who is out. you have katie walsh who was the first rnc connected high level staffer to leave and another lower level communications staffer who left just last week.
so you have four departures all connected to the rnc, the president's connection to that branch of the republican party growing thinner by the day. >> mr. rucker, one question was answered tonight. that is what the president will do about the russia sanctions. they floated out the idea he would not sign on them even though they passed through the house and senate with margins you don't see any more. >> that is right, the answer is the president will sign the legislation. we got word through the white house that sarah sanders, the press secretary, just an hour ago, the congress really forced the president's hand because this is a veto-proof majority. even if the president were to do a veto of this bill it would really be a symbolic gesture because the congress of course would override it. >> jonathan, we don't deal in absolutes, but how close to the worst week ever in the white house did we just witness?
>> that is -- this is up there. this is a week that has seen him as mentioned go after his attorney general, that has seen the health care bill collapse in a humbling defeat that has seen a lot of republicans suddenly act like they're not afraid of the president any more. they're not going to act on his behalf for loyalty or out of fear. and now we have scaramucci coming in, clearly shaking things up. he is sort of the president's id, if you will, he seemed not only that he survived this controversy but seems offended in the white house, but that could change if kelly comes in on monday and attempts to right the ship. but at the end of the day this is still the president. it all emanates from donald trump. there will only be significant changes in this white house if he is willing to make them. and until he does and of course this is the russia cloud hanging over all of this. there may be other competitors for worst week ever. >> after a long day for the good
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and we're continuing to work very hard every day to accomplish those goals. >> it was later dubbed the dear leader meeting. that was reince priebus at the president's first full meeting of the cabinet, thanking mr. trump, for the opportunity and the blessing to work for the administration. joining us by telephone to react to today's news, msnbc political analyst steve schmidt, also happens to be former chief strategist to john mccain, former 2008 campaign. steve, we have been thinking of you as this news has pulled out. give me the basics on the presidency tonight. >> well, it's in very bad shape. and listening to reince priebus on the audio, what it shows, brian, is that excellence and syphocancy is not necessarily job reassurance in the presidency.
we have the lowest numbers in the modern history of polling at 35, 36, 37%, wherever it may be. we have complete and total chaos in the west wing. and really, with each new dawn, there is another assault. another attack on the dignity of the institution of the office of the president of the united states. and so increasingly -- and i try not to be alarmist about this as we talk about it on a daily basis, but we're approaching a real hour of crisis in our democracy and in our civics. in the life of a democratic republic. and you think back to that story
from outside the declaration of independence convention, you know, where benjamin franklin walks out and he is asked by a woman on the street and says dr. franklin, what have we achieved here? he said the republic, madam, if you can keep it. i think what we see increasingly is a level of dysfunction that is profoundly injuring the institutions, to the democratic norms that are necessary to be sustained in a functioning 21st century democratic society. >> steve, as we always say, the heroes of watergate were for the most part, republicans. at least the surprise as it unspooled. and the surprise in the end. are you looking for that same thing of course coming off last night. murckowski, collins and mccain
in the senate, are you looking for the republicans to change their behavior and comments? >> of course, look, we have two parties in this country right now. we may well see a real independent candidacy in 2020, but when we look at the two parties right now the party that controls washington where members who i don't question their sincerity and their oath-taking where they swore the oath to defend the constitution of the united states. but the norms of a democratic society and culture that have been passed down generation to generation in this country are under assault by this administration. and where is the point where republican office holders stand up and say enough is enough with the chaos and with the
degradations of our most important institutions. and specifically, how important was it that mitch mcconnell was able to put together the vote of something that had the support of 13% of americans that not one of those senators knew how much it cost. how many people would lose their insurance. in fact, not one of them had any idea what the legislation would do who voted in the affirmative. and so as we continue on in this administration and you look ahead to the elections in 2018, what is increasingly clear is with this collapse of thinking and policy making and intellectualism that is attached to conservatism in the republican party, will there be a political price to pay for it?
and i suspect there will be a heavy political price to pay for it before all is said and done. >> a somber note, thank you, steve schmidt with us tonight. we'll take another break. when we come back some people who know this new incoming white house chief of staff, former marine, four-star general. how will he get along with the boss? what can we expect? that and more when "the 11th hour" continues. "got a minute? not for me, for you." new aveeno®... ...positively radiant® 60 second in shower facial. works with steam to reveal... ...glowing skin in just one minute. aveeno® "naturally beautiful results®"
literally i did not know mr. trump at all and i didn't know anyone that knew mr. trump. i was about ten days after the election -- i was watching college football with my wife on a saturday afternoon. i got a call, reince priebus, and i barely remembered that name. and once he convinced me it really was reince priebus and not one of my retired friends who does this kind of thing -- you know, said mr. trump would like to have an opportunity to talk to you about maybe going into the administration. >> that was just a few days ago, white house chief of staff incoming secretary john kelly in an interview with our own pete williams in aspen. he did not know the president or anyone who knew the president before taking the job of homeland security president last
fall, we are so happy and fortunate to have with us three men who know the general, retired four-star barry mccaffrey, decorated vietnam veteran, and another highly decorated veteran, u.s. army retired, jack jacobs, a recipient of the medal of honor. also returning to our broadcast, the former chief of staff at the cia and pentagon, jeremy bash. so general, you and general kelly were both in the four-star club, that is a very small membership. how did you come to know him? and tell him who is this man? >> i have known him over the years, in seminars with him, and doing interviews. this is one of the finest people i ever met in my life. in terms of integrity, competence, good judgment.
so i think the good news is for the american people. i would also point out. i heard a couple of colleagues talking about his lack of congressional or political experience. this fellow was seven years working congress for the u.s. marine corps. so he is intimately aware of how the legislative process works. and then finally, he not only served in europe and afghanistan, and all over latin america, he has been the military assistant to two of the finest public servants we ever had. bill gates and secretary leon panetta. so i think this guy would be better off parachuting into raqqah, syria, than going into this white house. but it's good news for the american people. >> general, you always have a way with words. colonel jacobs, in addition to being a new englander, his accent will give him away, but we should have american people know him for his service.
he is a gold star father, he lost a son serving in the military. he has another son, why do you believe he is suited for this job? >> well, he is intelligent, hard working, diligent, a strong patriot, a great american. but i don't think that this matters about the white house, the chief of staff has to be a chief of staff. anybody who has an opportunity to work around him will leave the place in chaos, jared kushner doesn't report to anybody, goes directly to the president. bannon is stuck to the president like the lip on the hull of a ship. scaramucci already said he reports to the president. at the end of the day, general kelly is either going to have to accept a diminished role as the chief of staff or he will have to be frustrated and have to leave. >> jeremy bash, during your
time, i know general kelly became a military officer that you worked with the closest. >> we worked together and traveled all around the world together. i want to echo what is said, he is a great american, maybe one of the greatest, i think the point stands even if we had the greatest american serving as the white house chief of staff, if the president doesn't empower that person and insist on order, and john kelly is a student of the chain of command, and order, the president will not be able to achieve his agenda, and i don't know -- john kelly and nobody can do it. i talked to his friends, his former boss, secretary leon panetta, we know he is highly capable and intelligent. we're praying for him, and want the president to empower him now to bring order to that very unordered place.
>> well, i hope a lot of americans see and hear what you gentlemen just said about him tonight. those three words, chain of command will come up tonight something tells me. so general mccaffrey, something tells me today, just before your appearance tonight on this broadcast, north korea fired off another icbm. we have information where they straightened out the journey of this missile today. it was aloft for 40 minutes to show us where had it had a different trajectory it could reach within the lower 48 of the united states. make that 49, make it 50, actually, including alaska and hawaii. so general, as fraught a circumstance as we have seen in the modern era certainly, what to do about this? >> there is only a bit of good news here. north korea is essentially a criminal regime. they're not zealots. they're not ideological, they're not religious.
so the preservation of the regime is the only thing that counts. having said that, this is an unstable regime with quirky lad who shoots his generals for not applauding loudly enough when he gives a speech. so we don't think he has a very rational bubble of decision-making around him. i don't think there is any good news. we're not going to strike north korea for trying to take out their nuclear capability. not going to happen. the chinese are not going to strangle north korea economically. not going to happen. they're not going to strangle their nukes, so we have to build our missiles and ships at sea. >> i love hearing the analysts saying we need to strike them pre-emptively, i want to say show me the target list you have in mind. >> i think if one assumes this is a continuing criminal
enterprise, one way to deal with them, we're going to have to go get together with china and look at the criminal enterprise's existence. otherwise, they will continue to develop the capability to strike the united states. we're not going to scorch their earth, with artillery strike distance, you have to make the deal with them. we kicked the can down the road so long this is the only route. >> and jeremy bash, you have the last word, we talked about perhaps a crisis would be the test of this administration no one was hoping to see. >> yeah, the chairman of the joint chiefs had to correct the president given the transgender policy, not on the substance, but the manner in which it was given. when the president communicates an order it should communicate through the chain of command, that was not done this week and in a real crisis that could cost
american security and american lives. >> general barry mccaffrey, jack jacobs, jeremy bash, thank you all gentlemen on a friday night. we certainly appreciate it. coming up, another white house staffer was resigning, remember sean spicer's exit, that was last friday. think of all that happened this week, we will when "the 11th hour" continues.
i know the best people, i know the best managers and deal makers. i know people that will make us -- i know guys that are so good. i know the good ones, the bad ones, the overrated ones. we got the best people. i have to best people. so we're going to get the best people, they have been calling me by the dozens. i have guys lined up, believe me. we're going to deliver, we're going to deliver and get the
best people in the world. >> he knows people. we figured it's friday night. we have to look at how we got here and where we have been. so we put together a great conversation group for this. joining our conversation, pulitzer prize winning presidential author and historian, the author of most recently, bush 41, john meecham, boston globe columnist and the joint chair with us, and author and friend of the broadcast. because a man from kenosha, because the man who is a friend of yours is in the white house, i want to start with what reince priebus's life has looked like this last six months. what his departure looks like to you today. i would love to hear it.
>> i do think of reince priebus as a friend. but i think the story is tragic, because he made a series of decisions and rationalizations, and enabled and empowered donald trump. and even though a lot of us warned him this would end badly i don't think anybody thought it would end in this torrent of profanity and humiliation that we have seen. you know, reince priebus says he is going to try to keep this classy and above board. but the reality is when you watch the trajectory of the first six months of this presidency, it's not because reince priebus was a bad chief of staff, it's because you have a bad president. everything starts and ends with donald trump. and unfortunately, despite what a great american general kelly is he is going to inherit that same dysfunction. at the center of everything that is happening is donald trump. by the way, the big question i have is what is the really defining move of last week?
was it the appointment of general kelly or was it the appointment of the mooch, the mooch who is obviously an unhinged, he has been described as the president's id, if that is the future of the presidency, then i don't think the president is going to be able to turn it around. >> as i said, general mccaffrey, the launch of a missile today sharpens the mind and causes you if you're at all worried about such things and responsive to such things, it asks you about the most fearsome arsenal in the world. >> i was talking to a very senior republican lawmaker last week who said he was more concerned about what he called the competence deficit in the white house, that he wasn't even worried about russia. and he was worried in 2016.
i do think general kelly is good news on that front. but we all know history is made up of the unexpected. and every white house comes in thinking that they can master events and events nearly always master them. that is the way the world works. as far as general kelly goes, i don't know if he knows the story, but exactly 30 years ago in 1987, when don reagan was on his way out as reagan's chief of staff, ronald reagan decided to call the great baker of tennessee, when the president called to offer him the chief of staff job. and senator baker was at the zoo with his grandchildren. and his wife said, mr. president, he can't come to the phone, he is at the zoo. and the president said well, wait until he sees the zoo i have in mind for him. and the reagan white house looks
like the kennedy school compared to this. >> indira, if the arrival of a marine four-star means these are better days ahead, do you think the bill for dysfunction kind of came due this past week? >> look, i think it's all a great idea that general kelly is supposed to come in and restore order. but it's like the idea of rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic when it is already half way under water. i mean, it really doesn't make any sense. there is no amount of order that he can possibly restore to a dysfunctional white house where everybody is infighting with one another, when it's the president himself who is encouraging this infighting, who is encouraging scaramucci to give an interview like he did, apparently with his blessing he gave these insults about reince priebus to ryan liz of the new yorker. when you have somebody at the top who is allowing his staff
members to act like contestants on "the apprentice," then one of them will get axed at the end of the week. i don't think how general kelly will try to make order, when you can't make order, it's like herding cats with a giant lion at the top of the pen. it absolutely can't happen. >> we'll be right back after this.
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i know that we're all going to make a deal on health care, that is such an easy one. >> we're going to take care of everyone. we're going to take care of people and people are going to get it so good. >> that was too easy, let's talk about what happened last night. in the well of the senate it came down to one very dramatic moment. senator john mccain comes in and raises his right arm, broken in three places in north vietnam. senator schumer waves off any verbal reaction. but with that it was done. seven years of talk about repeal and replace done in one hand gesture. our panel remains with us and we'll go to charlie sykes. charlie, much was made of that moment of course a moment of moral courage, a man staring down his own mortality, yet again not the first time in his last. let's talk about the courage of murckowski of alaska, and collins of maine, because
without those two women there is no moment like that no john mccain. my question to you, is that kind of courage for cheering them on going to be contagious? >> well, you don't know, you made the point to ask and others have as well that frankly it will have to be republicans or conservatives that will have to rein in the trump administration. it was barry goldwater that told nixon he needed to go. but john mccain not only cast a courageous vote, but probably provided cover for i don't know how many other senators who knew that this was a deeply unpopular flawed piece of legislation that the process, the policy, the politics were all very flawed. and that he provided them some cover. but you know we will see. i do get a sense that this was a turning point this week. lisa murckowski standing up against the threat from the
interior secretary. the push back against the talk of getting jeff sessions. passing the russian legislation, the pushback on the transgender order. you almost got the sense that republicans are realizing okay, this is their moment they have to push. >> so john meecham, i have to ask if there is anything as parallel to anything in talk and campaigning, any political party that has had house, senate, white house going into a vote so elemental? >> i can't think of a specific one. there are broad trends that that unfolds. the republicans growing uncomfortable with deficits, that kind of thing after campaigning against government for so many years. but in terms of a dramatic moment and really -- a window into a party in crisis, we talk
a lot about the democrats, identity crisis and rightly. but you know, there is a connection here between reince priebus's departure and the failure of the repeal vote, i think. which is that the republican party essentially sold its soul to donald trump and the check has bounced. and they're going to have to figure out what to do. >> indira, you get the last 30 seconds, what now for the trump administration? >> i think that john made the excellent point. it's really what republicans are going to do to stop him in congress. we already heard from chuck grassley saying no, we're not going to put in a new attorney general. and graham saying we're going to put in legislation to stop you from firing mueller. but i don't think it's going to stop this president from taking those kinds of actions. so we'll see if any other republican can be able to do what john mccain did, and
murckowski and collins, we'll see if anybody takes that kind of dramatic step to stand up to donald trump? >> and that sound you heard was the air coming out of charlie's lungs. charlie wrote books about this, copies of which we'll sell all during the fall. to john, indira, thank you for staying up late with us on a friday night after the week we have had. coming up, it was a week where so many things happened, you would be forgiven for not remembering it all. that is where we come in after this.
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remember that was when jared kushner first had questioning on the hill. he later had the west wing behind him reading a statement to clear his name. it was monday when the president addressed the boy scout jamboree, gave a speech so similar to a political rally that for the first time in their history the boy scouts had to apologize to scouts and their parents for a speech delivered by the president of the united states. tuesday, after a conference with the president of lebanon, the president seemed less than converseant on hezbollah and promised to make his legislation clear. there was no follow-up. also he said he would follow up with the information on his
attorney general. and in a rally in ohio, the president declared himself the most presidential since lincoln. that day senator john mccain flew back to washington and delivered a dramatic speech on health care. on wednesday, the president banned transgender service members in the armed forces. he did it later on twitter. the armed forces later told the members there was no policy they knew of. last night, a huge defeat of the health care bill after seven years of the repeal-and-replace rallying cry. and then later, during a speech, the president said they should not be so soft on them. later, the president said they don't advocate rougher treatment of those they arrest. then north korea launched another missile, donald trump
announced his new chief of staff. and now you're up to date. that is the broadcast on friday and for this week. have a good night from all of us at nbc headquarters in new york. . trump to priebus, you're fired! let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm joy reed in los angeles in for chris matthews, after months of speculation, white house chief of staff reince priebus is officially out. last night donald trump announced his replacement on twitter, quote, i am pleased to inform you that i have just named general/secretary john f. kelly as a knew chief of staff. he's a